- Art History
- Religious Context
According to Vajrayana Buddhism Tara is a completely enlightened Buddha who typically appears in the form of a beautiful youthful woman sixteen years of age. By category and by hierarchy Tara also functions as a Meditational Deity (yidam) and her appearance is that of a peaceful deity which is synonymous with Devi, Bodhisattva Appearance, one of the Eleven Figurative Forms Depicted in Tibetan art and iconography.
Tara made a promise in the distant past that after reaching complete enlightenment she would always appear in the form of a female for the benefit of all beings. She especially protects from the eight and sixteen fears and has taken on many of the early functions originally associated with the deities Avalokiteshvara and Amoghapasha. Practiced in all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism Tara, amongst all of the different deity forms, is likely second in popularity only to Avalokiteshvara. Meditational practices and visual descriptions for Tara are found in all classes of Buddhist Tantra, both Nyingma and Sarma (Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug).
The most common forms of Tara are the green which is considered special for all types of activities, white for longevity and red for power. The different forms of Tara come in all colours, numbers of faces, arms and legs, peaceful, semi-peaceful and wrathful. There are simple meditational forms representing a single figure and then there are complex forms with large numbers of retinue figures filling all types of mandala configurations. There are likely to be close to two hundred different meditational forms of Tara.
Database Search: Tara - All Images | Painting | Sculpture | Mandala
Jeff Watt 2-2003 [updated 4-2017]